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Ojai 5th Public Talk 4th July, 1953

Ojai 5th Public Talk 4th July, 1953

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I think it is particularly important to understand the question of what is knowledge. Most of us seem so eager for knowledge; we are always acquiring, not only property, things, but also ideas. We go from one teacher to another, from one book, from one religion, from one dogma to another. We are always acquiring ideas, and this acquisition we think is important in the understanding of life. So I would like, if I may, to go into the problem and see whether this additive process of the mind does bring about freedom, and whether knowledge can solve any human problem. Knowledge may solve superficial, mechanical problems, but does it free the mind fundamentally so that it is capable of directly perceiving what is true? Surely it is very important to understand this question, because in understanding it perhaps we shall revolt against mere methodology, which is a hindrance except in achieving some mechanical result. I am talking about the psychological process of the mind, and whether it is possible to bring about individual creativeness which is naturally of the greatest importance, is it not? Does the acquisition of knowledge, as we conceive it, bring about creativeness? Or, to be capable of that state which is creative, must the mind be free from the whole additive process?

Most of us read books, or go to talks, in order to understand; when we have a problem, we study, or we go to somebody to discuss it, hoping thereby that our problem will be solved, or that we will see something new. We are always looking to others, or to experience, which is essentially knowledge, in the hope of resolving the many problems that confront us. We turn to the interpreters, those who say they understand a little more - the interpreters, not only of these talks, but also of the various sacred books. We seem to be incapable of tackling the problem directly for ourselves without relying on anyone. And is it not important to find out whether the mind, in its process of accumulation, is ever able to resolve any psychological, spiritual problem? Must not the mind be totally unoccupied if it is to be capable of perceiving the truth of any human conflict?

I hope you will have the patience to go into this problem, not merely as I describe it, but as each one of us is involved in it. After all, why are you here? Obviously, some are merely curious, so we won't concern ourselves with those. But others must be very serious; and if you are serious, what is the intention behind that seriousness? Is it to understand what I am saying - and, not understanding, to turn to another to explain what has been said, thereby bringing about the process of exploitation? Or are you listening to find out if what I say is true self, not because I say it, or because someone else explains it? Surely, the problems which we discuss here are your problems, and if you can see and understand them directly for yourself, you will resolve them.

We all have many problems and there must obviously be a change; but is change brought about by the process of the mind? I am talking of fundamental change, not of mere sociological or economic reform. Surely, it is the mind that has created our problems; and can the mind resolve the problems it has created? Does the resolution of these problems lie in acquiring more knowledge, more information, in learning new techniques, new methods, new systems of meditation, in going from one teacher to another? All that is clearly very superficial; and is it not important to find out what makes the mind superficial, what brings about superficiality? With most of us, that is the problem, is it not? We are very superficial, we do not know how to go deeply into our conflicts and difficulties; and the more we turn to books, to methods, to practices, to the acquisition of knowledge, the more superficial we become. That is an obvious fact. One may read innumerable books, attend highly intellectual talks, gather vast stores of information; but if one does not know how to delve within oneself and discover the truth, understand the whole process of the mind, surely all one's efforts will only lead to greater superficiality.

So is it possible for you, while listening, not merely to remain at the superficial, verbal level, but to uncover the process of your own thinking and go beyond the mind? What I am saying is not very complicated. I am only describing that which is taking place within each one of us; but if you live at the verbal level and are satisfied with the description without directly experiencing, then these talks will be utterly useless. Then you will turn to the interpreters, to those who offer to tell you what I am talking about - which is so utterly silly. It is much better to listen directly to something than to turn to someone else to tell you what it is all about. Cannot one go to the source without interpretation, with out being guided to discover what the source is? If one is guided to discover, it is no longer discovery, is it?

Please see this point. To discover what is true, what is real, no guidance is necessary. When you are guided to discover, it is not discovery: you merely see what someone has pointed out to you. But if you discover for yourself, then there is quite a different experience which is original, unburdened by the past, by time, by memory, utterly free of tradition, dogma, belief. It is that discovery which is creative, totally new; but to come to that discovery, the mind must be capable of penetrating beyond all the layers of superficiality. And can we do it? Because all our problems - political, social, economic, personal - are essentially religious problems; they are reflections of the inward, moral problem, and unless we solve that central problem, all other problems will multiply. That problem cannot be resolved by following anybody, by reading any book, by practising any technique, In the discovery of reality, methods and systems are utterly valueless, because you have to discover for yourself. Discovery implies complete aloneness, and the mind cannot be alone if it is living on explanations, on words, if it is practising a method or depending on someone else's translation of the problem.

So, realizing that from childhood our education, our religious training, our social environment, have all helped to make us utterly superficial, can the mind put aside its superficiality, this constant process of acquisition, negative or positive - can it put all that aside and be, not blank, but unoccupied, creatively empty, so that it is no longer creating its own problems and seeking the resolution of what it has created? Surely, it is because we are superficial that we do not know how to go very deeply, how to reach great depths within ourselves; and we think we can reach great depths by learning or by listening to talks.

Now, what is it that makes the mind superficial? Please don't merely listen to me, but observe, be aware of your own thinking when a question of that kind is put to you. What makes the mind superficial? Why cannot the mind experience something that is true, beyond its own projections? Is it not primarily the gratification which each one of us is seeking that makes the mind superficial? We want at any price to be gratified, to find satisfaction; so we seek methods to achieve that end. And is there such a thing as satisfaction, ever? Though we may be temporarily satisfied, and change the object of our satisfaction depending on our age, is there satisfaction at any time? Desire is constantly seeking to fulfil itself, so we go from one satisfaction to another; and getting caught in each new satisfaction, with all its complications, we again become dissatisfied and try to disentangle ourselves. We cling to persons, pursue teachers, join groups, read books, take up one philosophy after another, but the central desire is always the same: to be satisfied, to be secure, to become somebody, to achieve a result, to gain an end. Is not that whole process one of the primary causes of the mind's superficiality?

And is not the mind superficial because we think in terms of acquisition? The mind is constantly occupied with acquiring, or with putting aside, denuding itself of what it has acquired. There is tension between acquisition and denudation, and we live in that tension; and does not that tension contribute to shallowness of mind?

Another factor which brings about shallowness is the mind's ceaseless occupation with its own troubles, or with some philosophy, or with God, ideas, beliefs, or with what it should do or should not do. As long as the mind is absorbed, concerned, taken up with something, is it not superficial? Surely only the unoccupied mind, the mind that is totally free, not caught in any problem, that is not concerned with itself, with its achievements, with its pains, with its joys and sorrows, with its own perfection - only such a mind ceases to be shallow. And cannot the mind live from day to day, doing the things it has to do, without this preoccupation?

For most of us, with what is the mind occupied? When you observe your own mind, when you are aware of it, what is it concerned with? With how to make itself more perfect, how to be healthy, how to get a better job, whether it is loved or not loved, whether it is making progress, how to get out of one problem without falling into another - it is concerned with itself, is it not? In different ways it is everlastingly identifying itself with the greatest, or with the most humble. And can a mind occupied with itself ever be profound? Is it not one of our difficulties, perhaps the major difficulty, that our minds have become so extraordinarily shallow? If any difficulty arises, we rush to somebody to help us; we have not the capacity to penetrate, to find out: we are not investigators into our selves. And can the mind investigate, be aware of itself, if it is occupied with any problem? The problems which we create in our superficiality demand, not superficial responses, but the understanding of what is true; and cannot the mind, being aware of the causes of superficiality in itself, understand them without struggling against them, without trying to put them aside. Because the moment we struggle, that in itself becomes another problem, another occupation which merely increases the superficiality of the mind.

Let me put it this way: If I realize that my mind is superficial, what am I to do? I realize its superficiality through observation. I see how I turn to books, to leaders, to authority in various forms, to Masters, or to some yogi - you know the many different ways in which we seek to be satisfied. I realize all that. Now, is it not possible to put all that aside without effort, without being occupied with it, without saying, "I must put it aside in order to go deeper, be more thoughtful"? This concern to become something more - is it not the constant occupation of the mind, and a primary cause of superficiality? That is what we all want: to understand more, to have more property, to have better brains, to play a better game, to look more beautiful, to be more virtuous; always the more, the more, the more. And as long as the mind is occupied with the more, can it ever understand what is?

Please listen to this. When the mind is pursuing the more, the better, it is incapable of understanding itself as it is; because it is always thinking of acquiring more, of going further, achieving greater results, it cannot understand its actual state. But when the mind perceives what it actually is without comparison or judgment, then there is a possibility of being deep, of going beyond. As long as one is concerned with the more at any level of consciousness, there must be superficiality; and a superficial mind can never find what is real, it can never know truth, God. It can concentrate on the image of God, it can imagine, speculate and throw up hopes; but that is not reality. So what is needed, surely, is not a new technique, a new social or religious group, but individuals who are capable of going beyond the superficial; and one cannot go beyond the superficial if the mind is occupied with the more or with the less. If the mind is concerned with having more property or less property, if property is its occupation, then obviously it is a very superficial, silly mind; and the mind that is occupied with becoming more virtuous is equally silly, because it is concerned with itself and its acquisitions.

So the mind is the result of time, which is the process of the more; and cannot the mind be aware of this process and be what it is without trying to change itself? Surely, transformation is not brought about by the mind. Transformation comes into being when the truth is seen; and truth is not the more. Transformation, which is the only real revolution, is in the hands of reality, not within the sphere of the mind.

Is it not important, then, for each one of us, not merely to listen to these talks, but to be aware of ourselves and remain in that state of awareness without looking to interpreters or leaders, and without desiring something more? In that state of awareness, in which there is no choice, no condemnation or judgment, you will see what is taking place, you will know the process of the mind as it actually is; and when the mind is thus aware of itself, it becomes quiet, it is unoccupied, still. It is only in that stillness that there is a possibility of seeing what is true, which brings about a radical transformation.

Question: Why is it that in this country we seem to feel so little respect for anybody?

Krishnamurti: I wonder in what country one feels respect for another? In India they salute most profoundly, they give you garlands, flowers - and ill-treat the neighbours, the servants, the animals. Is that respect? Here, as in Europe, there is respect for the man with an expensive car and a big house; there is respect for those who are considered superior, and contempt for others. But is that the problem? We all want to feel equal to the highest, do we not? We want to be on a par with the famous, the wealthy, the powerful. The more a civilization is industrialized the more there is the idea that the poor can become the rich, that the man living in a cabin can become the president, so naturally there is no respect for anyone; and I think if we can understand the problem of equality we may then be able to understand the nature of respect.

Now, is there equality? Though the various governments, whether of the left or of the right, emphasize that we are all equal, are we equal? You have better brains, greater capacity, you are more gifted than I; you can paint, and I cannot; you can invent, and I am only a labourer. Can there ever be equality? There may be equality of opportunity, you and I may both be able to buy a car; but is that equality? Surely, the problem is not how to bring about equality economically, but to find out whether the mind can be free from this sense of the superior and the inferior, from the worship of the man who has much, and the contempt for the man who has little. I think that is the problem. We look up to those who can help us, who can give us something, and we look down on those who cannot. We respect the boss, the man who can give us a better position, a political job, or the priest, who is another kind of boss in the so-called spiritual world. So we are always looking up and looking down; and cannot the mind be free from this state of contempt and false respect?

Just watch your own mind, your own words, and you will discover that there is no respect as long as there is this feeling of superiority and inferiority. And do what the government may to equalize us, there can never be equality, because we all have different capacities, different aptitudes; but what there can be is quite a different feeling, which is perhaps a feeling of love, in which there is no contempt, no judgment, no sense of the superior and the inferior, the giver and the taker. Please, these are not mere words; I am not describing a state to be desired, and being desired gives rise to the problem, "How am I to get there?", which again only leads to superficial attitudes. But when once you perceive your own attitude and are aware of the activities of your own mind, then perhaps a different feeling, a sense of affection comes into being; and is it not that which is important?

What matters is not why some people have respect and others do not, but to awaken that feeling, that affection, that love, or what name you will, in which this sense of the high and the low will totally cease. And that is not a Utopia, it is not a state to be striven after, something to be practised day after day until you ultimately arrive. I think it is important merely to listen to it, to be aware of it as you would see a beautiful picture, or a lovely tree, or hear the song of a bird; and if one listens truly, the very listening, the very perception does something radical. But the moment the mind interferes, bringing in its innumerable problems, then the conflict arises between what should be and what is; then we introduce ideals and the imitation of those ideals, so we never discover for ourselves that state in which there is no desire to be more and therefore no contempt. As long as you and I are seeking fulfilment, there is no respect, there is no love. As long as the mind wants to fulfil itself in something, there is ambition; and it is because most of us are ambitious in different directions, at different levels, that this feeling, not of equality, but of affection, of love, is impossible.

I am not talking of something superhuman; but I think if one can really understand ambition, the desire to become more, to fulfil, to achieve, to shine, if one can live with it, know for oneself all its implications, look at it as one would look at oneself in a mirror, just to see what one is without condemnation - if one can do that, which is the beginning of self-knowledge, of wisdom, then there is a possibility of this affection coming into being.

Question: Is fear a separate, identifiable quality of the mind, or is it the mind itself? Can it be discarded by the mind, or does it come to an end only when the mind ceases altogether? If this question is confusing, can it be asked differently: is fear always an evil to be overcome, and is it never a necessary blessing in disguise?

Krishnamurti: The question has been asked, and let us try to find out, you and I together, what fear is and whether it is possible to eradicate it. Or, as the questioner suggests, it may be a blessing in disguise. We are going to find out the truth of the matter; but to do that, though I may be talking, you must investigate your own fears and see how fear arises.

We have different kinds of fear, have we not? Fear exists at different levels of our being; there is the fear of the past, fear of the future, and fear of the present, which is the very anxiety of living. Now, what is this fear? Is it not of the mind, of thought? I think of the future, of old age, of poverty, of disease, of death, and of that picture I am afraid. Thought projects a picture which awakens anxiety in the mind; so thought creates its own fear, does it not? I have done something foolish, and I don't want my attention called to it, I want to avoid it, I am afraid of the consequences. This is again a thought process, is it not? I want to recapture the happiness of youth; or perhaps I saw something yesterday in the mountain sunlight which has now escaped me, and I want to experience that beauty again; or I want to be loved, I want to fulfil, I want to achieve, I want to become somebody; so there is anxiety, there is fear. Thought is desire, memory, and its responses to all this bring about fear, do they not? Being afraid of tomorrow, of death, of the unknown, we begin to invent theories, that we shall be reborn, that we shall be made perfect through evolution, and in these theories the mind takes shelter. Because we are everlastingly seeking security, we build churches around our hopes, our beliefs and dogmas, for which we are prepared to fight; and all this is still the process of thinking, is it not? And if we cannot resolve our fear, our psychological block, we turn for help to somebody else.

As long as I am thinking in terms of achieving, fulfilling, of not becoming, of dying, I am always caught in fear am I not? The process of thinking as we know it, with its self-enclosing desire to be successful not to be lonely, empty - that very process is the seat of fear. And can the mind which is occupied with itself, which is the product of its own fears, ever resolve fear?

Suppose one is afraid, and one knows the various causes that have brought about fear. Can that same mind, which has produced fear, put aside fear by its own effort? As long as the mind is occupied with fear, with how to get rid of it, with what to do and what not to do in order to surmount it, can it ever be free from fear? Surely, the mind can be free from fear only when, it is not occupied with fear which does not mean running away from fear, or trying to ignore it. First, one must be fully aware that one is afraid. Most of us are not fully aware, we are only vaguely aware of fear; and if we do come face to face with it, we are horrified, we run away from it and throw ourselves into various activities which only lead to further mischief.

Because the mind itself is the product of fear, whatever the mind does to put away fear only increases it further. So can one just be aware of one's fear without being occupied with it, without judging or trying to alter it? To be aware of fear with out condemnation does not mean accepting it, taking it to your heart. To be aware of fear without choice is just to look at it, to know there is fear and to see the truth of it; and seeing the truth of fear dissolves fear. The mind can not dissolve fear by any action of its own; in the face of fear it must be very quiet, it must know and not act. Please listen to this. One must know that one is afraid, be fully conscious of it, without any reaction, without any desire to alter it. The alteration, the transformation cannot be brought about by the mind: it comes into being only with the perception of truth, and the mind cannot perceive what is true if it is concerned with fear, if it condemns or desires to be rid of it. Any action of the mind with regard to fear only increases fear, or helps the mind to run away from it. There is freedom from fear only when the mind, being fully aware of its own fears, is not active towards them. Then quite a different state comes into being which the mind cannot possibly conceive or invent. That is why it is so important to understand the process of the mind, not according to some philosopher, analyst, or religious teacher, but as it is actually going on in yourself from moment to moment in all your relationships, when you are quiet, when you are walking, when you are listening to somebody when you are turning on the radio, reading a book, or talking at table. To be fully aware of oneself without choice is to keep the mind astonishingly alert, and in that awareness there is self-knowledge, the beginning of wisdom. The mind that struggles against fear, that analyzes fear, will never resolve fear; but when there is passive awareness of fear, a different state comes into being in which fear does not exist.

July 4, 1953.